Stories often make their way to the ears of Comms Business staff regarding certain members of the Channel being less than honest as they go about their business. After Tony Parish, Founder and CEO of Aura Alliance, posted on LinkedIn about a recent experience which left a bitter taste in his mouth David Dungay went to find out what it was all about.
Speaking to Tony it was clear he is extremely passionate about his market. Having been in Comms for over 35 years and having built several successful businesses it’s fair to say he’s seen it all! I asked Tony what led him to express his feelings on LinkedIn and he replied, “I’m sick of the dishonest people in our market, they are giving respectable people like me a bad name.”
Tony explained the details behind his frustration, “We were bidding for some work recently for a client I knew really well and they mentioned another company involved in the process who were bidding too. My client said he thought there was some smoke and mirrors going on with the other company but didn’t know anything specific.
Tony continued “It didn’t smell right to me so I went and looked them up, on their website they were claiming they were in 140 countries, had 5,000 engineers and over 500 customers. I went to Companies House to get their last accounts and saw in their last financial year their turnover was around £270,000, they made a loss of over £700,000 and had an average of two employees! Hardly a managed service company for big international corporates.”
“I also saw they were claiming they had acquired an American MSP. This was actually true, but when I looked it up it was one person who had a non-geographic number, and the address was registered to a three bed semi in Luton!”
Tony, clearly incensed, had to make a tough decision. His customer’s procurement team clearly hadn’t done their due diligence properly so he notified them of the information he found.
“If the customer did just 10 minutes of due diligence they could find this out. It really annoys me because the customer is going to get a bad deal, procurement won’t look at all this stuff it will just be about the bottom line figure.
Customers are obviously trying to get good value for their company but they must do a little bit of due diligence. Otherwise they are machine gunning themselves in the foot. People often say the deal comes around the next time after people do a terrible job, but you have lost that initial year and the customer may have had a large amount of initial spend for an upgrade or something, it’s never that simple… and then you can’t exactly tell a customer I told you so!”
Tony’s advice for customers is simple, “I would ask for customer referrals, they should go and talk to a like size customer for a reference. Definitely look at companies house and how many employees and how much debt they have.”
Making your company appear bigger and more prevalent in a market is nothing new, but as Tony points out it can have a detrimental impact on the rest of the market. Unfortunately, customers often perceive bigger to mean better… the old adage ‘no one gets sacked for buying IBM’ comes to mind!
In the government sector this can be a tricky mind set to alter. Tony comments, “The way procurement is done in the government sector needs to be looked at, they put things on frameworks and customers end up paying more and get bad service.”
“Then there is the subcontracting element, I subcontract for lots of SI’s who just margin stack… if the procurement people knew what they were doing they wouldn’t go to them because they know they would just sub-contract it. Cerillion is a great example of this, they are a massive company who typically takes business away from the people they then sub-contract it to anyway!”
Tony is an ex-BT apprentice, would he buy from BT? “Sometimes yes, the problem with the big guys is you may get a good account manager one day of the week and the rest of the time you will struggle. Customers will always get better service if they go with the SME type organisation… but, they need to be vetted thoroughly first!
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